Naughten welcomes Taoiseach’s support on disability-related issues

Proposals by Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten that would see “innovative recruitment of therapists to work evenings and weekends in children’s disability services” haves received the support of the Taoiseach.

Denis Naughten told the Dáil that the HSE must introduce flexible working contracts to attract therapists to the fifty vacancies that currently exist across children’s disability services in this region.

“It is no secret that children’s disability services in this country are at breaking point. But the sheer scale of the problem is shocking when you learn that almost 800 vacancies exist in children’s therapies across primary care and the Children’s Disability Network Teams and fifty of those vacancies in the area that covers Roscommon, Galway and Mayo,” stated Denis Naughten.

“Those vacancies exist across physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and psychology, with over 23 vacancies in the CDNTs and a further 27 vacancies in primary care. This means not alone are children enduring waiting lists for services, they are also facing inordinate waits for assessment, and with the HSE now purchasing capacity in the private sector to have assessments of need completed, options for parents are becoming more limited”.

Deputy Naughten pointed out that on Leo Varadkar’s return to the role of Taoiseach, he told the Dáil “our vision is to make Ireland the best country in Europe to be a child”.

“The unfortunate reality is that unless drastic action is taken, that statement won’t apply to children with a disability,” pointed out Denis Naughten.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar supported the proposal, acknowledging that the State will need to work innovatively to tackle waiting lists and difficulties with recruitment: “It [the use of part-time contracts] is certainly something we are willing to consider, as is the use of out-of-hours buildings and facilities where there is space available. That makes sense to me and I think a lot of parents would welcome the convenience of being able to take their kids to an appointment in the evening when they are finished their own work. That is a good idea too.

“I agree that the solution to a lot of these problems that we face with recruitment and retention in our health service, and other areas of the public service and private sector, is going to be innovation”.